Three Piece Suite - performed September 1995
Three One Act Plays
Space between the Years by John Scholes
|Mellisanda Clarke||Zoey Flanagan|
|Doris Winterbottom||Thelma Rayment|
|Neat Woman||Liz Butler|
SHAME on you Manningtree.
So often people complain there is nothing to do in the town, yet when there is something worthwhile it is not supported. The Manifest Theatre Group’s Three Piece Suite, a collection of three one-act plays was only about half full. So where was everyone?
The acting and presentation were faultless, the acting, apart from the occasional prompt, was as good as ever and
the entertainment better than anything on television, at least on Friday evening.
Those who did not bother to go, missed a real treat. The three plays were all enjoyable in different ways
but my favourite was Space Between the Years by John Scholes and directed by Linda Gatt.
Three plays, one success
MANIFEST Theatre’s latest offering consists of three short plays – hence the punning title –
running back to back in the company’s eccentric and rather delightful venue.
With three different directors, two comedies surround a haunting think-piece. Whether this king of theatrical
sandwiching is a good idea or not is worthy of debate.
Set in the 1970s the plot of Space Between The Years revolves around the confusion of a would-be Elizabethan alien. Sent to a planet on which he expect to speak cod-Shakespearean English and hand out sovereigns to wenches, the hero rapidly becomes unstuck in the modern world. Regrettable this situation is not exploited by the writer who comes up with painfully unfunny lines. Talking by radio to the aptly named Captain Doom, the best quip provided for the actor is “keep your aerials on”.
Adrian Bolton and Thelma Rayment battle valiantly to cover up the holes in the script but it is an impossible brief.
After Midnight, Before Dawn concerns the relationship between a group of six convicted (in all but one case wrongly) for witchcraft. It is in this play that we see the qualities that earned Manifest its high reputation.
Carol Cook is simply superb as the beguiling Satanist who draws the other souls to darkness only to be tricked by it herself. Young Alan Crabbe is terrific and has great potential, even it it is slightly distracting to see him grinning broadly at the audience during some of the more harrowing moments.
To end on a comic note, Joining The Club is an amusing examination of how pregnancy can cause difficulty in
modern heterosexual partnerships. Sarah McCarthy’s well judged portrayal of a high-flying mother-to-be has the
audience in stitches.
R G Ashworth
Gruesome tales of witches
ANGER, fear, helplessness and hope – all written on the facts of witches who know they face execution at dawn. Although far from today’s reality, the killing of men and women thought to dabble in witchcraft was a regular occurrence in the 16th and 17th centuries. Manningtree Green was a favourite hanging spot at the time of Witchfinder General Mathew Hopkins, and the local theatre group Manifest is harking back to the town’s gruesome history with After Midnight, Before Dawn, one part of its latest production Three Piece Suite.
The one-act play revolves around six 17th century witches as they spend their last night in jail, awaiting execution.. To add authenticity to their performance, the group arranged for a rehearsal in the dungeons at Colchester Castle enabling the actors to absorb the atmosphere left by those who really did pass their final hours there in fear of the rope.
Directed by Kerry King, the show includes two other one-act plays, the space Between the Years,
about an alien who is beamed down in the wrong time zone, and Joining the Club, about a your married couple
who have to handle pregnancy and job resignation simultaneously.